Eastern Michigan University won’t be forced to reinstate its softball program, but the school has agreed to a substantial settlement with two student-athletes who sued the university.
Former Eastern Michigan softball player Ariana Chretien will receive a $100,000 payment, and Eastern Michigan tennis player Marie Mayerova will receive $25,000. Softball will not be reinstated, but tennis will.
The university will also pay both athletes' legal fees.
The decision comes after Chretien and Mayerova sued Eastern Michigan back in March of 2018 in response to Eastern Michigan’s elimination of four sports teams: women's softball and tennis, and men's wrestling and swimming and diving. The school said the move would save the institution $2.4 million annually.
Chritien and Mayerova argued that the school’s decision was hasty and left even less opportunities for female student-athletes. They also said the timing of the decision was such that they were unable to transfer to other schools.
As part of the settlement, Eastern Michigan has also added women's lacrosse, which the school estimates will cost $650,000 a year and include as many as 36 athletes when it begins play in 2022. It was determined that softball would have cost the school $870,000 for as many as 20 athletes.
"Eastern Michigan University has approached our discussions with the plaintiffs positively and constructively," Eastern Michigan spokesman Geoff Larcom told The Detroit News on Tuesday night. "Our team has worked together with the plaintiffs' legal counsel for 15 months to arrive at a fair result. The university fully embraces Title IX and the support of our female student-athletes at all levels, and we have worked diligently with plaintiffs to draft and present a Consent Decree that reflects these values. This settlement reflects the university’s continued laser focus on compliance with Title IX."
The school has also agreed to the following:
- Eastern Michigan pledges to achieve "substantial proportionality," no more than 1.8 percent, between male and female student-athletes by spring 2023.
- Eastern pledges not to eliminate any women's sports before spring 2023 unless there are "circumstances beyond its control."
- EMU will commit an additional $2 million toward women's sports over the next three years, in addition to the costs to start the lacrosse program.
- The university will hire a Title IX consultant, and the court will appoint a third-party monitor to oversee that terms of the settlement are coming to fruition.